Rewire your brain to sleep by tapping into your innate ability to sleep by reprogramming your physiological responses.

an image of various wires go to various metres. On an article indicating that you need to rewire your brain to sleep to overcome insomnia.

This week, we will reprogram your physiological response to sleep and rewire your brain.

Before that though, I want to know how did week 1 go?

I know there wasn’t a whole lot to physically do that week, but there are some crucial actions that carry over into this week.

Let’s recap:

  1. You filled out your sleep diary aka sleep restriction calculator
  2. You now understand the biological processes that makes sleep possible
  3. You got out of bed when you haven’t been able to sleep for the past week
  4. You are implementing at least one way to calm your nervous system down (even if it’s not working that well yet)
  5. You shifted your mindset where you are truly, unequivocally committed to the process of getting a healthy sleep schedule
  6. You went to see your doctor (or made an appointment) to discuss insomnia, and rule out any physical cause

Now let’s build on last week, and dive into week 2 on how to rewire your brain to sleep.

This week is all about tapping into your innate biological ability to sleep. Just like your mind can override your body and make it nearly impossible to sleep, you can teach your body to override your mind and sleep well.

This week is crucial to overcoming insomnia. The main mission this week has two purposes:

  1. You will essentially be hitting the reset button to associate your bed with sleep and relaxation. There is mental work that needs to be done around this front too, but it’ll be covered in the following weeks.
  1. You will build and strengthen your sleep/wake cycle so having a regular sleep schedule will come naturally in the coming weeks.

As I mentioned in week 1, there are processes that happen in your body every day that facilitate sleep. They are intricate and play into and off of each other.

This is an innate function of being a human. If you are thinking that you don’t have the ability to sleep, let me tell you right now – you unequivocally do.

You are just as much a biological being as the next person on earth. If you had the ability to not sleep, you wouldn’t be here. Yes, you hear about the odd person who sleeps 4 hours and feels rested, or entrepreneurs who say sleep is for billionaires, but the former is an incredibly rare genetic mutation and the latter are full of shit (I’ll get into this later).

The actions this week to rewire your brain to sleep will be implemented until you sleep full nights (7-9 hours for most people).

The stuff that comes in the following weeks will help to facilitate this process more easily, however, this physiological component to rewire your brain to sleep needs a full tune up first.

It might only take you a few weeks to get on track, or it might take you months. I want you to remember that this is step 1. Where you start doesn’t matter as long as you’re committed. 

Barbell, Fitness, Health, Sport, Training, Weight

It’s like when you work out for the first time in months or years and your body is so sore you can barely move the next day. But then as time goes on and you continue exercising, you’re not only less sore but you’re stronger, and exercise becomes easier. 

The same goes for insomnia. Your system might be ‘shocked’ for a bit, but you’ll adapt. Just remember that yes, you might be in pain, but it’s only temporary.

It’s worth noting again – your success with overcoming insomnia hinges on your ability to commit to the process.

It may be challenging to rewire your brain to sleep, though I hope it isn’t for you. You need to jumpstart your body into a routine that supports your physiological need to sleep. When you strengthen your body’s ‘off switch’, it becomes easier to access as time goes on. I just ask that you trust yourself that any difficulty along the way is part of the healing process.

sleepy pug wrapped in a taupe throw blanket sitting atop a thick white duvet blanket

I also wanted to mention another point:

Insomnia is not something you have to deal with forever, nor should you deal with it forever – because I would venture a guess that if you continue the way you are, the costs to you and your life are high. 

Your memory is shot. Emotional control is greatly diminished. Your physical health has declined because you have no energy to exercise, and you put yourself at risk of health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. Maybe you almost hit someone in your car because you can’t pay attention to the road very well. Your mental health is strained, and maybe your relationships suffer as a result. Work or school has suffered. Your overall quality of life just isn’t good when you have insomnia.

Yet even with all the garbage that comes with insomnia, there are potential ‘positives’ you are missing.

Here’s what I mean by this – there is a payoff for continuing the way you are.

You might not think there is any sort of reason you would continue to have insomnia, but there may be – and it may be the reason you slip back into bad habits or self-sabotage along the way.

There’s an internal reward for lacking commitment to getting better. It means not having to overhaul habits like staying on your phone too late or having irregular bedtimes. It could mean instead of looking after your physical health, you choose to do nothing because it’s easier. 

It’s not having to confront uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and attitudes towards sleep and life in general. Maybe the payoff is an internal masochistic thing where you subconsciously like beating yourself up, or maybe you have a sense of superiority over people who do sleep. It’s just easier to continue as you are than change – because that’s true for pretty much anything in life that is worth pursuing. 

So what’s your payoff? I wasn’t expecting to put a quest in this introduction, but I think it’s important to recognise this during your insomnia-eradication journey. 

📍 Quest #1

I want you to write down all of the ways insomnia is affecting your life. Even the most seemingly mundane things should be noted. I also want you to write down how insomnia is benefiting your life. Be completely honest with yourself. Because there is a payoff, however small, for continuing as you are. 

Now let’s get into the meat of overcoming insomnia.

🎯 Goal

In week 2, you will start tapping into your innate ability to sleep. Just as I mentioned in week 1, chronic insomnia is a conditioned response. You will understand, implement, and truly internalise the process of creating a regular sleep schedule that will facilitate your sleep/wake cycle. 

🏁 Mission

You will be restricting your sleep. 

I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it works. This week, we cover the details of sleep restriction.

This week, we will rewire your brain to sleep by jump starting your physiological processes of sleep and analysing your emotional response to sleep.